Church Homeless Trust

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Quays to the future

Date posted: 23 Jun 2014

Last Thursday Church Housing Trust attended an event celebrating award-winning Riverside ECHG scheme The Quays in order to welcome some special visitors from Poland.

The Sittingbourne scheme hosted the occasion, whose guests included the Mayor of Swale and the High Sheriff of Kent, to welcome visitors from Polish charities identified by the European Social Fund (ESF) as having best practice for their various projects. The attendees were mainly frontline members of Polish community services that run employment services funded by the ESF. After seeing that the Quays had won the National Institute of Adult and Continuing Education Award, the group decided to include the scheme in a tour of UK charities.

Team Leader at the scheme, Donna Lee, gave a talk explaining the ethos and practices at the Quays, including the Community Kitchen, Food Truck and First Service programmes, which provide residents of the scheme and local adult job seekers with the chance to undertake professional catering training.

She introduced Sarah, a recent resident who has now passed a number of educational courses and is looking forward to applying for new jobs, and Naz, who now runs the Food Truck and provided lunch for everyone there on the day. The visitors also heard from Sally Reid, one of the trainers at the Community Kitchen, and Nicole Holgate, Communications officer for Church Housing Trust, who regularly fund the Quays’ projects.

The guests then took a tour of the scheme, including the residents’ living areas and the IT suite where many of them take computer certifications. They were intrigued to see how the Quays works towards ending homelessness through a network of local services that not only ensure vulnerable people do not ‘slip through the net’, but also provide a number of training and employment opportunities for residents.

Lukasz Szewczyk of the University of Warsaw said “It’s been a very interesting visit. We have seen the comprehensive approach applied to vulnerable people. [] In Poland, groups have very narrow specifications – rarely is holistic support provided. We will be able to serve our clients better by providing this approach.”

A member of the Ministry of Infrastructure and Development in Poland added “We are a group that have implemented a variety of projects under the ESF. We wanted to find out about best practice in England and find other ideas to take away. The Quays is definitely a project worth imitating.”

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